Agenda for 2018 Blueberry Education Workshop


January 23, 2018


MSU Forrest County Extension Office

952 Sullivan Drive

Hattiesburg, MS 


Time                      Author, Title

1:00-1:30pm       Registration (no charge, just sign in upon arrival)

1:30-1:50pm       Updated Research on Spotted Wing Drosophila

                                Dr. Blair Sampson

Research Entomologist

USDA-ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory, Poplarville, MS

1:50-2:10pm       I am GAPs certified- do I need additional training and documentation under FSMA?

Dr. Juan Silva

Professor, Food Processing

Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS

2:10-2:30pm       Proper Disease Sampling Techniques

Dr. Rebecca Melanson

Assistant Professor, Extension Plant Pathologist

Mississippi State University, Central MS Research and Extension Center, Raymond, MS

2:30-2:50pm       Break

2:50-3:10pm       Accelerating small fruit breeding through genetic technology

                                Dr. Ebrahiem Babiker

Research Geneticist

USDA-ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory, Poplarville, MS 

3:10-3:40pm       Potential of UAS (Drone) Technology in Agriculture

                                Louis Wasson

Senior Extension Associate, Unmanned Aerial Systems in Agriculture

Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS

3:40-4:00pm       Q&A, Evaluation

4:00pm                 Drone Demonstration

2015 Mississippi Blueberry Education Workshop

The 2015 Mississippi Blueberry Education Workshop will take place February 12, 2015 from 1-5pm at the MSU Forrest County Extension office in Hattiesburg, MS.  Mississippi State University Extension Service, in conjunction with the USDA-ARS and the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association, will once again host an educational workshop focused on blueberry production in Mississippi. This year the topics will include Spotted Wing Drosophila, Disease issues, Blueberry breeding, Pollination and pollinators, Mechanized harvest technology and economics, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Please come learn about these important topics.
Cost: $10, at the door will be collected by the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association to help in future workshops.

Get the full schedule of speakers and other information by downloading the pdf file below:

Blueberry Workshop 2015

The VitisGen Project

Vitisgen ( is a large, multi-disciplinary, collaborative project focused on decreasing the time, effort and cost involved in developing the next generation of grapes. Vitisgen incorporates cutting edge genomics technology and socioeconomic research into the traditional grape breeding and evaluation process, which will speed up the ability to identify important genes related consumer-valued traits like disease resistance, low temperature tolerance and enhanced fruit quality. Identifying these genes will help grape breeding programs from around the world to more rapidly develop new grape varieties that will appeal to a wide range of consumers, while also addressing grower and producer needs. Additionally, the scientific resources developed during the project will allow scientists and breeders to address other issues and needs that have regional significance, like salinity or drought tolerance.

Vitisgen represents a new model of scientific collaboration. The integration of the needs of multiple interests—breeders, growers, fruit processors and consumers—into a single outcome will result in novel grape varieties that are beneficial to producers, processors and consumers.

I am part of this project on the extension and outreach team (  Read more about VitisGen extension here (  This project has tremendous potential to revolutionize grapevine breeding and help reduce the time needed to get new cultivars out to growers.  I encourage  you to take a look and feel free to write me with any feedback you have.

Origins of Interspecific Hybrid Winegrapes

Introduction to Grapes

Grapes are in the Vitaceae family which consists of 11 genera and 600 species, including the most commercially important genus, VitisVitis is the only food-bearing genus in the family and has two subgenera: Euvitis and Muscadinia.  All bunch grapes are in the Euvitis subgenus of which Vitis vinifera is the most important species.  V. vinifera originated in the Caspian Sea region and there have been more than 5000 named cultivars.  The range in which V. vinifera can be successfully cultivated is limited by climatic factors.  This species requires a long growing season, relatively high summer temperatures, low humidity, a rain-free harvest period, and mild winter temperatures.  It is most often used for wine, but these grapes can also be used to produce juice, raisins, canned good, rootstocks, or for fresh consumption.

Other Important Grape Species

There are also other important grape species that have been utilized in the creation of interspecific hybrids.  These species are from North America, and the most well-known is V. labruscaV. labrusca (also called V. labruscana) is commonly called the Fox Grape.  The most famous cultivars from this species are ‘Concord’, ‘Niagara’, and ‘Isabella’.  It has large berries, small clusters, fair pest resistance, and a distinctive and strong flavor.  The Riverbank Grape is V. riparia.  Several cultivars have this species in their lineage, such as ‘Beta’, ‘Clinton’, ‘Baco Noir’, ‘Marechal Foch’, and rootstocks 3309C, 5BBK, and SO4.  It has small berries and small clusters with wide variation in ripening time and cold hardiness levels.  It is vigorous, roots easily (which makes it attractive to use as a rootstock), and has fair to good pest resistance.  The Summer Grape is V. aestivalis, which is mainly known for the cultivar Cynthiana (also called Norton).  It has small to medium berries with medium to large, open clusters, and fair pest resistance.  One of the issues with this grape is its tendency toward high sugar and high acid, thus rendering wine-making a challenge.  V. rupestris is commonly known as the Sand Grape.  Cultivars using this species are ‘St. George’ and the rootstock AxR1.  It has small berries, small to medium clusters, and has a very “wild” taste.  The plant is vigorous and roots easily while having good pest resistance.  Another important species is V. lincecumii, the Post Oak Grape.  This species is native to the southern plains states.  Many cultivars have this species in their background, including ‘Bailey’, ‘Beacon’, ‘Ellen Scott’, ‘Marguerite’, and ‘Rubaiyat’.  It has medium to large berries with small to medium clusters and a distinctive “wild” taste, but different from V. labrusca.  It also has fair pest resistance.  This species was hailed by T.V. Munson as being especially important for creating hybrid grape cultivars.

Hybrid Grape Origins

The creation of interspecific hybrid grapes primarily came about because of problems encountered in France in the 1860s.  A devastating phylloxera outbreak began there in 1860 and in the next 20 years about 90% of French vineyards were destroyed.  To combat this epidemic, cultivars derived from American species were planted.  At one time over 25,000 acres of ‘Noah’ was planted in France.  ‘Clinton’, ‘Othello’, ‘Lenoir’, ‘Isabella’, and ‘Herbemont’ were also planted.  ‘Concord’, ‘Catawba’, and ‘Delaware’ were tried but had low resistance to phylloxera.  These species also brought with them new disease problems like downy mildew and black rot.  In 1876, it was found that V. vinifera cultivars could be grafted onto American grapes successfully.  The discovery helped transition back to V. vinifera grapes, but diseases were also a problem.  In 1885, Bordeaux mixture was discovered as a broad spectrum fungicide to help alleviate the disease problems.

French hyrids originally started as breeding for rootstocks on which to place V. vinifera grapes.  Amateur grape breeders pushed the breeding process forward to look for vines with roots resistant to phylloxera, foliage resistant to fungal pathogens, and fruit that could produce wines more similar to V. vinifera types.  The first stage of breeding for hybrids used crosses of American cultivars or rootstock with V. vinifera cultivars.  This stage of breeding produced some cultivars such as ‘Baco noir’ and ‘Baco blanc’.  Some of the important American types used in the breeding process were ‘Noah’ and Jaeger 70.  The V. vinifera cultivars used included ‘Folle Blanche’, ‘Aramon’, ‘Clairette’, and ‘Cinsaut’.  The second wave of breeding for interspecific hybrids used crosses between hybrids gained from the first stage.  Some of the influential breeders of this time period were Seibel, Bertille Seyve, Joanes Seyve, Galibert, and Landot.  The third stage of hybrid breeding led to the modern hybrid grapes commonly grown today.  These were usually crosses of hybrids from the second stage with V. vinifera grapes to gain superior wine quality.  However, with the elevation of wine quality came the dilution of pest resistance.  There are several breeding programs now involved around the world in creating high quality hybrid grapes.  Some of the programs in the United States are in New York, Arkansas, California, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and Missouri.

Commercial Hybrid Grapes

There are many high quality hybrid grape cultivars available.  Some examples follow:

‘Chambourcin’ (true parentage unknown), high yielding, moderately cold hardy, vigorous, disease resistant, also grown in France and Australia.

‘Chardonel’ (Seyval Blanc x Chardonnay), highly productive, moderately cold hardy, makes a wine very similar to ‘Chardonnay’, patented.

‘Frontenac’ (V. riparia x Landot 4511), vigorous and productive, very cold hardy, very resistant to diseases, must limit skin exposure in wine making, needs malolactic fermentation.

‘Marechal Foch’ (includes V. riparia, V. rupestris, and V. vinifera), a sibling of ‘Leon Millot’, vigorous, early ripening, good winter hardiness, early budbreak, fruitful secondary buds.

‘Traminette’ (J.S. 23.416 x Gewurztraminer), similar wine character to ‘Gewurztraminer’, good disease resistance, decent winter hardiness, large clusters, good yields.

‘Vignoles’ (unknown), cold hardy, moderate vigor and productivity, compact clusters, susceptible to bunch rots, makes a fruity, sweet wine.

Final Comments

Hybrid grapes make good substitutes in areas where V. vinifera grapes are marginally adapted or not adapted.  The modern hybrid grapes produce high quality wines that do not include “off” flavors that are characteristic of some older hybrids.  Rombough (2002) stated that hybrid grapes can be as successful as V. vinifera grapes.  He wrote:


“The question is one of marketing, and nothing else.  Most wineries make their money from the walk-in trade.  And each and every walker-in is amenable to hand-selling…it doesn’t matter what name is on the label, so long as there is quality in the bottle.”


Quality is an important aspect to consider.  Adaptation is very important when deciding what type of grapes to grow.  Just because V. vinifera cultivars like ‘Pinot noir’ or ‘Zinfandel’ make exceptional wines elsewhere does not necessarily mean they will make good wines everywhere.


Einsett, J. and C. Pratt. 1975. Grapes. p. 130-153. In: (J. Janick and J.N. Moore, eds.), Advances in fruit breeding. PurdueUniv. Press, West Lafayette, Ind.

Rombough, L. 2002. The grape grower: a guide to organic viticulture. Chelsea Green Publishing. White River Junction, Vermont.

Snyder, E. 1937. Grape development and improvement.  Yearbook of Agriculture 1937. US Dept. Agriculture. p. 631-664.

[Originally published: Stafne, E.T. 2008. Origins of interspecific hybrid winegrapes. Proc. 27th Annu. Ark. Okla. Hort Indust. Show 94-96.]